Single-atom Sn-Zn pairs in CuO catalyst promote dimethyldichlorosilane synthesis

Qi Shi, Yongjun Ji*, Wenxin Chen, Yongxia Zhu, Jing Li, Hezhi Liu, Zhi Li, Shubo Tian, Ligen Wang*, Ziyi Zhong, Limin Wang*, Jianmin Ma, Yadong Li, Fabing Su*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Single-atom catalysts are of great interest because they can maximize the atom-utilization efficiency and generate unique catalytic properties; however, much attention has been paid to single-site active components, rarely to catalyst promoters. Promoters can significantly affect the activity and selectivity of a catalyst, even at their low concentrations in catalysts. In this work, we designed and synthesized CuO catalysts with atomically dispersed co-promoters of Sn and Zn. When used as the catalyst in the Rochow reaction for the synthesis of dimethyldichlorosilane, this catalyst exhibited much-enhanced activity, selectivity and stability compared with the conventional CuO catalysts with promoters in the form of nanoparticles. Density functional theory calculations demonstrate that single-atomic Sn substitution in the CuO surface can enrich surface Cu vacancies and promote dispersion of Zn to its atomic levels. Sn and Zn single sites as the co-promoters cooperatively generate electronic interaction with the CuO support, which further facilitates the adsorption of the reactant molecules on the surface, thereby leading to the superior catalytic performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)600-608
Number of pages9
JournalNational Science Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • CuO catalyst
  • Rochow reaction
  • catalytic performance
  • dimethyldichlorosilane synthesis
  • dual single-atom promoters


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